Stories that take you on a journey

The Camino Way: limping into Zubiri

My last post was written at an albergue computer with another Pellegrino hovering over my shoulder. A hurried post to let my family and friends know I was still walking, although the boots had long been discarded for the walking sandals.

Looking back at Day Two…

Today I digress back to Day Two. At the start of the day, I remembered the words from the guidebook – “take care not to overextend yourself on these first few days of your journey” but missed the comment “allow 2 hours for a slower’ end of day pace.'”

We left Roncesvalles in the dark, fiddling around with headlamps that didn’t want to go, trying not to trip up on the exposed roots on the narrow woodland path to Burguete.

Just before Burguete, we found the most fantastic supermarket – we bought large juicy peaches, local chocolate (sugar boost), bags of crisps (essential salts), new batteries for headlamps and water.

My original plan included a night in Burguete channelling some of Hemingway’s writing genius. In The Sun Also Rises Hemingway, his main character Jake Barnes describes the surrounding countryside, trout fishing and the long, arduous journey by bus from Pamplona. Having just finished the book, I should have realised that our trip was going to be strenuous.


Coffee & croissant breakfast in Burguete – watched over by this beautiful Malamute.


Local Paysan blocks the exit of Burguete – the price kisses and pictures (girls only).

 Discovering New Zealand hikers wool…

Walking wise it was a hard day – the constant ascents and descends for the first 17-18 km arduous. This was my first day carrying my backpack. Somewhere on a ridge top, I stopped took off my boots for a few repairs. Mike and Lisa had New Zealand hikers wool (must product), which they doled out generously to Dean and me, relieving early hot spots on our feet.

The long descent from Alto de Erro 810m down to the Rio Arga and small town of Zubiri at 500m probably damaged my left heel. Lisa and I had begun walking slower than the guys; however, it was a snails-pace on the descent. Mike remained within sight of “his two girls”, but Dean had kept his own walking pace somewhere on the downhill trail and gone on ahead.

Finally Zubiri…

For the final few kilometres, we walked along rolling woodland trails that followed the river; however, the relief was palatable when we finally reached Puente de la Rabia, the medieval bridge over the Rio Arga which leads into the village of Zubiri. On the river banks, relaxing, waiting for us with a cigarette in hand, was Dean. Finally, Michael instructed us to get off the boots and our feet into the cold water. Unfortunately, my left heel was ripped to pieces – the boots should have been biffed months ago! But the cool water took the sting and heat out my feet, and the tiredness began to wan.

While Lisa and I did yoga stretches on the springy riverbank grass, the guys went and found an albergue for the night. We had a room of a room. Four single beds and three sets of bunks. I was lucky enough to get the bed in the corner.



Puente de la Rabia


Our daily routine…

Then the daily routine of organising the laundry (washed and dried for 6 Euros), booking a pilgrim meal and going for a beer began. Lisa and I left the boys at the bar and went in search of a pharmacy – the verdict was a deroofed blister that required anti-biotic cream and special plasters. The only way I would continue walking in boots is to overlay the bandaging with hikers wool.

Discovering Spanish Cider…

Back at the bar, the guys had moved onto cider, and our new Camino friend Oscar from Spain had joined the party. The bar owner had broken into his private stash of cider and bought out a bottle.   Pouring the cider is an art form that I should have videoed. We watched as Oscar raised the bottle above his head (right hand), took the glass down low, and poured. The cider flowed like a waterfall down into the glass. As we left, the owner gave Mike another bottle to take on our walk – generous offer, but sure to cause fatalities.

Making new friends, Camino Style…

At the pilgrims’ meal, we met a lovely Italian couple, Franco and Chiarra; our journeys would become intertwined over the next week or so. But it was the German couple who had done the walk before and demanded more bottles of wine for our table that made the meal into a party. I could barely keep awake. Lisa and I went upstairs, Franco and Chiarra back across to their albergue while the others headed for the garden – a bottle of wine in hand.

Later we slept to the sound of thunder, raindrops hitting the window panes and Mike’s snoring.

2 Responses to “The Camino Way: limping into Zubiri”

  1. Linley

    So… Shall I go round to your house and throw out all your high heeled shoes???You may forever be destined to walk this earth in slippers……this is a good story Linley


  2. Amy

    I’m loving these posts! I hope the feet are doing better …. eagerly awaiting the next installment. Be safe. Love Amy xxx



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